665 Ton Iron Hulled Barque 1888 – (Details in LARN) (Weymouth Library Photo L.910.4.LA2, Neg. No.3. – Chesil Beach, opposite Fleet. Note: Rocket Apparatus deployed. Tombstone in Newstead Cemetery, Weymouth. This ship once held the record for the ‘Australia Run’ Twelve of her eighteen man crew were lost including Captain Wittingham. Picture of wreckage in LePard: p133.


DCC: 15/03/1888; (Transcription KVS)

Total Wreck of a Barque on the Chesil Beach. Loss of Twelve Lives. About midnight on Thursday another shipwreck occurred in the West Bay, and we regret to say it was attended with the loss of twelve lives. The weather was very thick, and in going up Channel the ship came too near the dreaded Chesil Beach and ultimately went ashore near Fleet, where she became a total wreck. The unfortunate vessel was an iron built barque of 665 tons register, named LANOMA, owned by Messrs. T. B. Walker & Co., of Fenchurch Street, London, and was on a voyage from Tasmania to London, with wool, hides and blue stone, in command of Captain Whittingham, having a crew all told of 18. She had a very favourable voyage until Thursday, when it was reckoned she was well up in the Channel, but owing to a thick fog the captain was out in his reckoning and came too close in the West Bay. As soon as the danger was perceived signals of distress were made and answered, and in a comparatively short time, considering the difficulty of transit, the rocket apparatus from Wyke station, under the command of Chief Officer Young, proceeded to render assistance to the Fleet coastguard, under the direction of Mr James Thorne, but before communication could be established with the vessel she had come broadside on the beach and began to break up. There was a very heavy sea breaking on the beach, and, though the coastguard were the means of saving several lives, the majority of those on board were washed off by a tremendous sea and drowned. The way in which two of the crew were saved seems almost miraculous. It is well known that it is almost certain death to the unfortunate seaman who, seeing the shore only a few yards distant from the doomed ship, attempts to save his life by swimming the distance. In every case previously known the man has lost his life in making the attempt, but in this instance one did actually make the effort and has lived to tell the tale. Another was wonderfully preserved by clinging to a plank and being washed on shore. In spite, however, of the efforts made to save the lives of the crew twelve were drowned, and the ship is entirely gone to pieces. One body, that of Mr. Cruse, the chief officer, was cast on shore soon after the wave had washed the group who were on the poop waiting their turn to be saved. The rescued men were taken to the Fleet Coastguard Station, where every kindness was shown them and dry clothing provided. They remained there until Friday morning , when they were transferred to the Sailors’ Home at Weymouth, where they were taken in charge by the agent of the Shipwreck Mariners’ Society, provided with clothes, and sent to London. The cargo of the ship was floating about in all directions within a very short time after she had struck and greatly impeded the operations of saving life.

List of Drowned

Captain Whittingham; Mr. Cruse, chief mate; Mr. Fox, second mate; Mr. Black, carpenter; Mr. Smidt, steward; Mr. Montaro, cook; Jones, Johnson, and Wilson, able seamen; Edwards, Finnis, and Hood, apprentices.


Howes, Kenseth, and Fox, able seamen; Allen, Bassey, and Arnold, apprentices.

Ernest James Arnold gives the following particulars:- About 11.30 last night the man on the lookout reported breakers ahead. I was at the wheel and put the helm down and brought the ship to the wind. The mainyards were backed and we tried to put her on the other tack, but she would not go round, and went on shore broadside on. The sea, which was very heavy, made clean breaches over her, carrying away the boats out of the davits, the maintop gallant mast, the mizentop gallant mast, and then the mizen mast. As soon as the ship struck an apprentice named Edward Allen and an able seaman named Jones jumped overboard with a line and tried to swim to the shore with it. Allen succeeded in reaching the shore but without the line, and Jones was hauled back to the ship exhausted. We then tried to float a line to the shore, but without success. A line was then made fast to an iron belaying pin and tried to be thrown on shore, but this also failed. Before the ship struck we commenced burning blue lights, which were answered by, the firing of rockets in a few minutes. When all our lights were exhausted we began ringing our bell and hung our riding light over the quarter. I was washed overboard and struck out for the shore, but the bales of wool which were floating about in all directions prevented me from reaching it and I was almost senseless. At last I reached a plank, and though much exhausted held on to it and floated on it for about an hour, when I was picked up cast ashore by a coastguard. I was then more dead than alive, but was taken to the coastguard station and looked after.

Stephen Kenseth states; About 12 o’clock last night, during a thick fog, all hands were called on deck to put the ship about but she would not pay off. She then sailed along by the side of the beach until she struck. Jones, an able seaman, and Al1en, an Apprentice, tried to get on shore with a line; the latter reached the beach, but the other had to be pulled back to the ship. He had another trial afterwards but it was no use. We then made fast a line to a belaying pin and tried to throw it on shore, but it would not fetch. All hands went off to try to get the lifeboat out, but could not do so. We then started for another boat hanging on the davits, but as we were doing so the sea took it away. We then all got on the poop, as we could see signals of assistance from the shore, and were told to hang on until a line was sent on board. The coastguard fired a rocket which caused communication with the ship, and the breeches buoy was rigged and some of the men pulled on shore. Whilst we were waiting on the poop a sea came and washed most of the men off. I was saved by the rocket apparatus.

In the last journey made by the breeches buoy a seaman and apprentice who were in the basket were drowned. It is said Jones made no less than three attempts to reach the shore, and on the last occasion was hauled back to the ship in a fainting state. He was one of those who were washed overboard and drowned by the heavy sea.

Six of those drowned are married men namely, the captain, mate, carpenter, steward, cook, and one able seaman.

The Inquest was held on. Friday afternoon at Fleet Farmhouse before Mr Henry Symonds, deputy coroner. The body of the deceased, William Cruse, lay in the coastguard building, and there the jury were empanelled and viewed the corpse, after which they proceeded to the farmhouse.

The Coroner, in opening the proceedings, said no doubt they had all heard of the terrible accident which happened last night, and they had met to enquire into the cause of death of William Cruse, one of the unfortunate men who had lost his life with many others. The jury would have to direct their attention particularly to the fact, first as to the cause of death, then to consider whether all was done which could be to save the ship by those on board, and then whether all was done which could be done by the Coastguard to save those who were on board the ship. He should commence the enquiry by calling the coastguard who saw the signals for assistance, and then some of the survivors, who would tell how the ship was managed when she struck the shore; and what was done by the Coastguard on the shore, and then he trusted the jury would be able to return a verdict to their satisfaction. Thomas Howes said; I am a commissioned boatman in H. M. Coastguard stationed at Fleet Coastguard Station. Last night I went on duty at 6.30 to look out for ships. At that time the weather was not very rough, but it was hazy. There was a fresh wind but not a gale. At ten minutes to twelve I saw a rocket go up close in to the Chesil Beach, and about half a mile to the eastward of the station, which I considered to be a signal of distress from a ship. I then called my superior officer and men, and we answered the signal with a blue light, which I think could be seen by those on board the ship, unless she was too close under the beach. At that time there was a heavy rain., and the wind had freshened considerably, nearly a gale, the force being seven or eight. The signals for assistance were continued, rockets being discharged and flare-ups burst. I started for Wyke about two minutes after the first signal was seen. I was sent to Wyke station to inform the officer there and to get the apparatus out. When I arrived at Wyke I found the officer had seen the signals for assistance and had called the rocket brigade, got the lifeboat ready, and was getting; her ready to be launched with the apparatus in her, The ship was about 2 1/2 miles from Wyke. The boat was launched into the Fleet and rowed until she came opposite to where the ship was, when the rocket apparatus was launched and brought into position. By this time my own officer and companions were on the beach; but they had no rocket apparatus. They had only life lines and a heaving cane; but I cannot say if these were used or not. At that time it as so dark that the ship could not be seen, and it was not until the Coastguard illuminated the shore that a vessel could be made out, she then being 50 or 60 yards from the beach when the sea ran up. I should think about an hour elapsed from the time I first saw the signal of distress until the rocket apparatus was ready for working. At that time the ship had only one mast, the foremast, standing, and I think some sails were hanging to the yards. The sea was then running very high. The lifeboat is one built simply for the purpose of carrying the rocket apparatus, and it is not intended to be launched in rough weather. It is a lifesaving rocket apparatus boat. If there had been a proper lifeboat it would have been impossible to have launched her, as at that time the wind was blowing a gale. I could see from 10 to 12 men on the vessel hanging on to the taffrail and begging for assistance, although I could not distinguish what they said. They were then in the afterpart of the ship, she having broken in two. The rocket was then fired which carried the line across the afterpart of the ship. One man was ashore before I reached the beach, but how I do not know for certain. When the men got hold of the line they hauled off a “whip” with a tail block attached, which they made fast, and the breeches buoy was hauled out to them for the purpose of hauling the men ashore. By means of this buoy we hauled 4 men ashore in succession in safety, but the fifth time 2 men got into it, it only being constructed for one. Just then a very heavy sea broke over the ship, and I did not see any more of them, so that they must have been swept out of the buoy by the force of the wave. We then hauled the buoy back to the ship again, but no one else got into it Whether or not any one was left on board I do not know for certain, but I think there was one person behind. Prior to this I had seen several of the men washed off the ship. The buoy was not hauled on shore for a considerable time in case any one might have been left behind. The ship was breaking up very fast whilst we were saving life and soon after was entirely gone. Afterwards the Coastguard went along the shore with torches and life lines to see if they could find any of the crew among the wreckage and found a man, apparently lifeless, about 500 yards from the wreck. A man with a lifeline attached went into the sea after him and eventually he was hauled on shore. He proved to be the deceased, and for two hours the usual method of trying to restore the apparently drowned was resorted to. I and others of the Coastguard went up the beach to see if we could find any other men amongst the wreckage. I then heard a man crying out for assistance and went into the surf with a life line attached to me and at last reached him, when we were both pulled on shore. The man’s name is Ernest James Arnold. He was handed over to others to be taken care of and I then went to make a further search, but did not discover any more bodies. I think if the men had remained in the fore part of the ship when she came on shore they might have been saved by means of the heaving cane, as the bow of the ship was then much nearer the shore. She afterwards lay broadside on, so that her bow was farther off.

The Coroner remarked he should like to say a great deal of praise was due to Howes for the manner in which he had behaved. He thought he behaved in the most plucky and ready manner. He certainly desired to compliment him, and was glad to be able thus to give expression to it.

One of the jurymen remarked, though it might not be generally understood, it was very dangerous for a man to go into the surf even with a line attached to his body, and therefore very great praise was due to the boatman for the manner in which he had acted.

Thomas Thorne said; I am chief boatman in charge of the Fleet Coastguard station. On Thursday night about ten minutes to twelve the last witness called my attention to signals of distress in the Bay. There is no lifesaving apparatus at Fleet, as a rule more vessels going ashore nearer Wyke than here. I answered the signals by firing a rocket, sent Howes to Wyke, and then proceeded with my men on the beach, taking life lines and heaving cane. We got to the beach in from 20 to 25 minutes after seeing the first signal of distress. When we got on the beach we burnt blue lights, and by that means saw a ship from 50 to 60 yards from the shore on the receding of the waves; but at times these would flow up another 50 yards, so that she would be 100 yards distant. She was a large vessel – a barque between 500 and 700 tons register. She had some of her canvas on her, but was not under full sail. I heard voices on board, and could see the people trying to throw something on shore; but they could not succeed. We tried by means of the heaving cane to throw a line over the ship, but failed as the distance was too far, although two of my men went into the sea with a rope around them and made several attempts. The ship was lifted up and down as the waves broke on the shore, and it was this which made her go to pieces so soon. She broke in two just before the rocket apparatus arrived. The account which Howes has given respecting the efforts made to save life with it is correct; everything was done to save life. The men who were brought on shore were landed in 5 minutes after the breeches buoy had reached the ship. When I first arrived on the beach I found one of the men from the ship had reached the shore, his name being Edward Allen; but he was too exhausted to render any assistance and had to be attended to. The 4 men who were saved by the rocket apparatus, as also the one who had swam on shore, were brought to the Fleet station, where they had dry clothing and stimulants given them, and afterwards the other man who had been found on the surf was then looked after and cared for.

John Fox said; I am an able seaman on board the LANOMA, of London; her tonnage is 664 register, and she was bound from Launceston, Tasmania, to London, with a cargo of leather, wool, and skins. We left Tasmania on the 23rd of December. The name of the master is Thomas B. Whittingham, who resided in London. The ship is twelve years old, and this is my second voyage in her. She was a well found, seaworthy ship in every respect and the crew consisted of 18 – captain; 2 mates, cook, steward, carpenter, 6 able seamen, and 6 apprentices. The body the jury have viewed is that of the chief mate, Mr. Cruse, who was about 40 years of age and married. We had not sighted any land since pasting Cape Horn, and for the last 3 or 4 days the weather has been very hazy. Yesterday morning the captain considered he was off the Lizard, and expected to make Portland about night time. Everything had gone well until last night, when the weather set in very rough and hazy. I was on the lookout at 10 o’clock, when rain set in, and the wind freshened considerably and continued to do so. About half-past eleven I was on the top gallant forecastle when I saw land about 200 yards distant on the port bow, and at once reported what I had seen, when the helm was put down, but the ship did not answer. She was then under easy canvas, going about 7 knots an hour, and went ashore in a few minutes broadside on, and at once commenced to break up. It was the deceased’s watch, but the captain was on deck on account of the thick weather. As soon as ever the vessel struck blue lights were lighted, and kept burning until all were used, when the riding light was hung over the quarter. The signal for assistance was answered in about 10 minutes, and soon after the Coastguard came and told us to hold on until the rocket apparatus arrived. There were 4 boats on board. We tried to get one out of the davits, but it was carried away, and even if it had not been it would have been impossible to have launched her. I did not see anything of the lines which the Coastguard were trying to throw on board, but could hear them talk. The rocket apparatus afterwards arrived, but by that time the ship had parted. I do not think any of the men were in the fore part of the ship. I was the first man saved by the breeches buoy. I left the captain behind. As soon as the ship struck Allen and Jones tried to get on shore. The latter had a life buoy attached to him with a line, but Allen did not have anything. Allen succeeded in reaching the shore, but Jones had to be pulled back. He made three attempts, but failed each time, and was afterwards washed off the deck and drowned. The Coastguard did everything in their power to save life.

Edward Allen said; I am an apprentice on board the LANOMA. Her owners are Messrs T. B. Walker, of London, and she was chartered by Messrs Davitt, Moore, and Green. I have been in her 4 trips. I was in the Watch with Fox last night and sighted a light about 11 o’clock, which I took to belong to a ship, but afterwards found to be Portland light. About half an hour after the ship struck and began to go to pieces at once. The captain asked if anyone would take a line on shore, when I and Jones volunteered to do so. A lifebuoy was lowered with a rope attached and we both tried to get it on shore. As I found we could not do so I left him and made for the shore, which I reached, but do not know how Jones was hauled back to the ship insensible. As soon as I reached the shore I ran along the beach to endeavour to find assistance and then the Coastguard came up. When I saw the light I reported it to the captain, but he thought we were beyond Portland, and did not alter the ship’s course. One of the survivors stated the captain thought he was well beyond the Bill and somewhere near Anvil Point when the ship struck. The Coroner said the jury had now heard the evidence in regard to this sad calamity, and would be able to arrive at a conclusion as to how deceased met his death. So far as the Coastguard was concerned, everything seemed to have been done that was possible to save the lives of those men who were on board the ship; and he was glad to find some had been rescued through their exertions, and he wished to give them every credit for the part they had taken in the affair. It was a matter of thankfulness there was a rocket apparatus near, and that men were to be found ready to assist in rescuing life on this terrible coast. With regard to the ship they had to consider whether the persons who were in charge of her were negligent of the safety of the lives entrusted to them. The captain they had been told was a most excellent and kind man and quite capable of managing the ship – a man in every way to be trusted. Allen had told them he was on the watch last night about half an hour before the vessel struck, and saw a light which he reported to the captain. At that time he considered it to be a light from some small smack, but afterwards discovered it to be one of the Portland lights, one of a very large character, and supposed to warn ships of the danger of the coast, As they well knew the weather last night was very thick and rainy, and it was possible it might have been difficult to make out the exact nature of the light, and the captain seemed to have been under the impression he had passed Portland lights without having seen them. If he had known the light was one of the Portland lighthouse signals he would have altered his course and the wreck might not have taken place, though it was not improbable the ship might have driven on a lee shore. It was not, however, right to attach any blame to the captain and none of the crew did so, as they considered he had done his duty. He was on deck, as it seemed was the practice during thick weather, and showed every desire for the safety of the ship. The mate, too, seemed to have been a man quite capable of doing his duty, and was in charge of the ship when she struck, and had lost his life. He (the Coroner) did not know whether it was desirable to adjourn the inquiry for further evidence, but he had taken it somewhat fully so as to get at the truth of the case and to at once dispose of the inquest on William Cruse, who was the only man yet recovered of those who had been drowned. He thought the evidence was sufficient for the jury to form an opinion as to the cause of death, and they would agree with him in saying the deceased was drowned through the foundering of the LANOMA. He wished on his own behalf, and he was sure also for the jury, to express their deep sympathy with the widows and relatives of the poor men who had lost their lives. They felt for them deeply and mourned for their loss. It was an extremely sad thing to reflect upon that when they were almost within sight of home and hoping to be there in a few hours they were snatched away by the hand of death.

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased was accidentally drowned by the foundering of the LANOMA.

On Saturday morning the 6 survivors of the wreck were forwarded to the Walls-street Sailors’ Home, London, by the shipwrecked Mariners Society. On Sunday a large number of persons visited the scene of the wreck, but there was very little to be seen excepting a very rough sea, and a large quantity of wreckage floating about. Comparatively speaking very little of the cargo has been saved, but pieces of wool are scattered on the beach for miles. One of the bodies has been washed ashore.

DCC: 03/05/1888; “The Wreck of the LANOMA – The want of a rocket apparatus at Fleet was greatly felt at the wreck of the above vessel, and it is more than probable the loss of. life might have been less severe had there been life saving appliances on or near the spot. Colonel Hambro, M. P., with his usual solicitude for the interests of his constituents, has been in communication with the Board of Trade on the subject, and it is pleasing to find his representations have been attended with success, as may be learnt from the following letter:-

“Board of Trade, Whitehall Gardens, S.W., 24th April, l888.

My dear Sir, – I beg to inform you that this Board have decided to establish a life saving apparatus at Fleet, and to have the house at Wyke removed to Fleet for storing the life saving apparatus. The Board have also decided to build a new house at Wyke, which will be more suitable than the present one to the requirements of that place. – Ever yours faithfully, Thomas Gray.

Colonel Hambro, M.P.”

Newstead Road Tombstone.

There is a grave in Newstead road cemetery. In loving memory of Herbert Rhys Jones son of the Revd Jones formally of Llwynderw, Breconshire, & Elizabeth Anne, his wife. Drowned in the wreck of the LANOMA on the Chesil beach, March 8th, 1888. Aged 26 years. ‘Farther thy will be done’ EMC has a photograph of Newstead Tombstone.

Day of Loss: 8

Month of Loss: 3

Year of Loss: 1888



Approximate Depth: